Photo Gallery | PHOTOS: Back to School haircuts


PITTSFIELD -- "Number 53! Who's got number 53?" a woman shouted among a crowd gathered outside of the building at 148 First St., around 11:30 a.m. on Monday.

She wasn't a waitress, but part of a corps of volunteers from Our Fathers House of Restoration and We Care Outreach Ministries who offered their time and services to "Cuts for Kids."

The inaugural program brought together six barbers from three city barber shops -- All-Star Cuts, Sim's and Chewy's Barbershop -- as well as a half-dozen teenage girls and women, to give free haircuts and styles. The daylong event also included free giveaways of school supplies and messages about bullying prevention.


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The program started at 9 a.m., and by noon, more than 60 elementary and middle school-aged kids were sporting fresh new looks for school, which starts Wednesday in Pittsfield.

"A lot of organizations do back-to-school supplies, but we wanted to do something a little different to give back to the community," said Latasha Young, a minister for the church.

Kristian Pridgen, an eighth-grade student at Reid Middle School, said he showed up, "Because I wanted to look sharp for the first day of school.

Two days before school begins, Chewy Torres cuts the hair of Dez Merced, 10, in Pittsfield on Monday during an anti-bullying event. The effort was
Two days before school begins, Chewy Torres cuts the hair of Dez Merced, 10, in Pittsfield on Monday during an anti-bullying event. The effort was organized by We Care Ministries in response to recent gang violence, including a shooting in Pittsfiled. (Ben Garver / Berkshire Eagle Staff / photos.berkshireeagle.com)
"

"I have a child in this age group so I think it's highly important that we all come together for the kids," said Kevin Fye, of All-Star Cuts, who was joined by his associate Raymond De La Cruz.

The other volunteer barbers included Steve Vilot and Matt Ketchum of Sim's and Chewy Torres and Gilbert Dias of Chewy's Barbershop.

In another room, a group of women Pastor Sharon Johnson calls, "Team We Care" worked on girls hair. The team included Lynette Miller, Shayne Turnage, Lashonna Young, Tatiana Guity, Jada Pridgen and Camia Kazimierczak.

Miller, a licensed hairdresser, said she was glad to put her skills to good use. "It's really about giving back to the community and trying to be more involved," she said.

"If we can mentor these kids and give them tools to use that will be effective in diffusing the animosity they might face, it's worth our time," Miller said.

Laquan Brown, and his fellow Herberg Middle School friends Julius Woods and Nassem Barnhill, all said they liked the "Cuts for Kids" program and also felt the messages were right too.

"It's good and kids want to look nice," Brown said. "But there is a problem with bullying."

"Bullying's a bad thing and we need to stop it," Woods said.

Samantha Mathis brought her two children for haircuts, John Henry and Shayna Thomas, entering first grade at Crosby Elementary School and third grade at Stearns Elementary School, respectively.

"My kids are so happy. This is a great day, here. Look at how happy all the people are," Mathis said, pointing to a queue of parents talking on the sidewalk and kids playing in one of the building's rooms.

Johnson said she and her husband, Darrell, who head the church, are working to expand their efforts to provide more outreach to children, families and other individuals who need support in the city.

Our Fathers House of Restoration, currently located at 140 Wahconah St. (the former La Cocina), will soon move to 390 Merrill Road, where the outgoing Solomon's Furniture and U-Haul lot is located. The church will also be renamed City Impact Global Ministries.

The first floor of 148 First St. building, with support from Anthony J. Barnaba of Blueline Design Inc. Architects, will be used as a new outreach center, offering the community everything from job support, mentoring, transportation, prayer groups, parenting classes, youth arts and sports programs and more.

"Our motto is ‘We care about your family, your faith, your finances and your future,' " Pastor Sharon Johnson said.

She noted that many community issues stem from not having enough education or the right tools to get jobs or to ask important questions to navigate things like personal finance and health care.

"It's a good feeling to be here today," said barber Matt Ketchum of Sim's, also a parent. "I got into this profession because growing up, I had to cut my own hair because my parents couldn't afford it. Today, we're three barbershops here doing this, not competing. This is our opportunity as adults to show kids how everybody's got to get along to make things work."

To learn more about City Impact Global Ministries, call (413) 841-9910 or email cigm390@gmail.com.

To reach Jenn Smith:
jsmith@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6239.
On Twitter: @JennSmith_Ink